1971 Lamborghini Countach LP prototype 500 lives again

·2-min read

On March 11, 1971, Lamborghini unveiled the Countach LP 500 prototype at the Geneva Motor Show on the Carrozzeria Bertone stand. Lamborghini had also brought the reworked Miura P400 SV to the show, and believing it would be the star, had placed the Miura at its own stand and dispatched the Countach to the design house stand. Admittedly, Lamborghini had done the same thing in 1966 when the Miura debuted in Geneva. The Countach ruled the 1971 show and was soon on magazine covers around the world. The Italian house spent three years developing the prototype for production, putting the Countach LP 400 on sale in 1974. The prototype sacrificed its life during crash testing for the production model.

Now the prototype is back, or the best facsimile thereof. Lamborghini says "an important collector" approached the firm in 2017 asking if they could recreate the yellow shock that started the 50-year craze for V12 engines and scissor doors. That customer might have got his idea from the 1971 Miura P400 SV prototype that Lamborghini restored in 2017 using archival documents. So the automaker's classics division, Polo Storico, went back to the archives for drawings, documents, meeting notes and pictures; interviewed people who were there at the time; and contacted suppliers like Pirelli for an updated version of the Cinturato CN12 and paint maker PPG for the Giallo Fly Yellow Speciale color.

It took 2,000 hours for the design house, Lamborghini Centro Stile, to reproduce the bodywork, all of it hand-beaten as it was in 1971. It took more than 25,000 hours to recreate the entire coupe with parts that were either original, restored, or fabricated from scratch ranging from the platform frame (instead of the tubular frame in the production car) to the partially electronic instrumentation. Lamborghini didn't mention the engine, though. The prototype contained a 5.0-liter V12; the production model downsized that for a more reliable 4.0-liter unit. We'll guess a collector committed enough to pay for 25,000 hours of Lamborghini work wouldn't compromise on the heart of the matter. Whatever's back there, it sounds righteous in the video.

The result is now on display in the concept class at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Lamborghini didn't mention a price, either, not that it matters; there's enough money in the world that the company brought back the Countach, it might as well revive the true original.

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